Company settles EEOC pregnancy accommodation suit for $80K

A residential care provider has settled an EEOC lawsuit alleging failure to accommodate an employee's pregnancy.

Silverado Menomenee Falls, LLC, a residential care provider, has settled a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for $80,000. The lawsuit alleged that a Silverado hospice/assisted living facility in Wisconsin unlawfully refused to accommodate the pregnancy of an employee. Here are the Consent Decree, the notice that the employer will be required to post as part of the agreement, and the release to be provided by the individual employee. 

I wrote about this lawsuit back in September:

Refusal to provide light duty (“make-work”) as pregnancy accommodation

And, finally, we have the EEOC’s lawsuit against a hospice/assisted living facility in Wisconsin. The allegations are pretty bare-bones. According to the EEOC, a caregiver was denied light duty that she requested because of her pregnancy, and she was terminated, presumably for inability to do the job. But the hospice did provide light duty to employees with on-the-job injuries, and the caregiver at issue would have been able to perform those light duty tasks. So the EEOC is claiming that the hospice violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act by denying light duty to pregnant employees while giving it to other non-pregnant employees who were similar in their ability or inability to work.

"Pssst . . . this is the case to really watch!"

In my opinion, this is the case to watch. In 2014, the EEOC took the position that employers had to offer light duty to pregnant employees if they offered it to employees with workers’ comp injuries or employees with disabilities. After the Supreme Court’s decision in Young v. UPS, the EEOC revised its guidance and took those “light duty parts” out. But they didn’t really back down, and I’ve been telling employers who don’t want to be “test cases” to at least try to offer light duty to pregnant employees if they offer it for these other reasons. I’m not sure the courts will agree that this is necessary. With this lawsuit, and if the hospice doesn’t settle, we will find out soon enough.

"The case to watch." *sigh* Too bad. Now that it's settled, we won't have a court decision on this issue. We will stay on the lookout for the next big thing.

Robin Shea has more than 20 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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